Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for December 15th, 2008

Graft? Or politics, Chiang Kai-Shek style

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2008

AP in The Guardian:

Taiwanese prosecutors indicted former President Chen Shui-bian on graft charges Friday, a stunning blow for a man who rode to power 8 1/2 years ago on promises to reform the island’s corrupt political culture….

Prosecution spokesman Chen Yun-nan said the former president and his wife together embezzled 104 million New Taiwan dollars ($3.12 million) from a special presidential fund, and received bribes in U.S. and Taiwanese dollars worth $9 million in connection with a government land procurement deal.

He said Wu alone took another bribe of $2.73 million from a government construction project….

Chen, who ended a 50-year monopoly on power by Ma’s Nationalist Party in 2000, was first elected on promises to end official corruption in Taiwan.

The former leader went on hunger strike the day of his incarceration but began eating again after 16 days, heeding pleas from his wife and family to preserve his strength.

While I know nothing about the details of the case, and therefore can have no opinion on Chen’s guilt or innocence, a man who endures a 16-day fast is a man to be listened to.

Posted in China, corruption | Comments Off on Graft? Or politics, Chiang Kai-Shek style

Do you love the Fourth Amendment?

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2008

Then defend it. Thomas Tamm, Justice Department lawyer who revealed the existence of illegal NSA wiretapping to The New York Times, is under severe personal and financial stress. You can help him by contributing to the Thomas Tamm Legal Defense Fund at

Bank of Georgetown
5236 44th Street
Washington, DC 20015

And thanks to Rachel who is, as far as I know, the first electronic media person to touch this story.

Posted in Good Causes, NSA eavesdropping | Comments Off on Do you love the Fourth Amendment?

Socks Is About To Cross The Rainbow Bridge

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 15, 2008

Sad news about Betty Currie’s best friend:

Socks the cat, probably the most photographed presidential kitty in history, has cancer and isn’t expected to live. “His days are numbered,” says Barry Landau, a friend of Socks’ master, Betty Currie. Landau, a presidential historian and author of The President’s Table, tells our Suzi Parker that the Currie family could have put Socks on feeding tubes, but decided against it. “They fear he is too old,” adds Landau, who is writing a book on presidential inaugurations. And a second source told us that Socks is gravely ill.


In recent years, Socks has been hanging out at Currie’s Hollywood, Md., home and sometimes making guest appearances. But since we last wrote about Socks, his conditions have worsened and included weight loss and kidney problems. Southern Maryland Newspapers Online did a wonderful story about this last year, quoting Currie’s husband Bob saying what lots of us pet owners say: Socks “lives better than I do.”

Ave atque vale, Socks! You will be missed.

Posted in Bill Clinton, cats, Hillary Clinton, Sad things | 5 Comments »

Keep It Up, Press Corps!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 15, 2008

The past week seems to have been one giant attempt by the Traditional Media — despite everything Patrick Fitzgerald could sensibly do to prevent its happening — to pretend that Barack Obama is somehow guilty of doing Blago’s bidding, even though a large chunk of the profanity on the Blagojevich tapes is connected to Blago’s being angry precisely because Obama and his people wouldn’t do Blago’s bidding.

Well, if the GOP/Media Complex was trying to put a dent in Obama’s poll numbers, they might as well give up right now:

Gallup shows that 72 percent of the public has a favorable view of Obama, and 18 percent an unfavorable view. The 72 percent favorability rating matches the 72 percent score that Obama achieved on November 7th-9th for the highest since the election, whereas the 18 percent disapproval rating is Obama’s lowest yet. Three days ago, before Blagojevich’s arrest, those ratings were 70 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Rasmussen, likewise, sees no change to Obama’s approval ratings. 67 percent of their voters now approve of Obama’s performance, and 31 percent disapprove, exactly matching Obama’s ratings from three days prior, and within a percentage point of his peak totals.

Keep it up, press corps! Let’s see if your bogus attacks can get him consistently over 80% approval before he’s sworn in next month.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Chicago, Clinton Rules, GOP/Media Complex | Comments Off on Keep It Up, Press Corps!

Consumer-led recession turns into business-led recession

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2008

Recessions come in all kinds of flavors. This one began as housing led: a decline in demand for housing caused that sector to contract. It then developed into a consumer-led recession: as housing prices fell, consumers were unable to borrow against their home equity. Also, credit card companies started cutting lines of credit. So consumers cut back on spending. And now the recession is developing into a business-led recession, creating the opposite of a virtuous circle, namely a vicious spiral. Richard Milne, FT:

Companies are scrambling to cut inventories before the end of the year in a move that is depressing activity across many industries and could lead to some businesses collapsing.

Chemicals and steel producers, carmakers, housebuilders, retailers and consumer goods manufacturers have all complained of customers and suppliers cutting orders sharply to reduce the amount of stock they hold because of plummeting demand.

Such destocking is also taking hold as raw material prices plummet and companies wait longer to buy products that are getting cheaper.

Feike Sijbesma, chief executive of DSM, the Dutch life sciences group, said destocking was causing pain throughout the supply chain. “Some smaller companies might fail,” he said.

“The destocking effect is unprecedented. We have never seen anything like this,” said Tom Crotty, chief executive at Ineos, the UK chemicals group.

Short term, it’s a recipe for deflation. Long-term, it’s a recipe for shortages and wild inflation. The only way to stop it is to get people to start buying again.

Posted in economy, financial crisis | 3 Comments »

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